My Dog Becomes a Buddhist

My Dog Becomes a Buddhist

Regina Chang

Hua Zang Si is a temple in the United States that propagates the dharma of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. I have been a disciple at Hua Zang Si since I was in middle school. As a young adult, I gained valuable wisdom and experience attending temple with my family. The blessings I have received are innumerable and I am always grateful for everything I learn from the true Buddha dharma.

My Dog, Pansy

On Saturday, May 6, 2017, my dog was able to take refuge with Hua Zang Si temple in San Francisco under Qupei Rinpoche after attending a one hour fish release dharma assembly. I adopted Pansy, in October 2016 from the San Francisco SPCA Mission branch. Pansy is now two and a half years old, but still very boisterous and energetic like a puppy. She is very playful and likes to jump on people. She also barks and runs a lot when there are many people and dogs around her and she wants their attention on her. I was worried about Pansy taking refuge during the fish release because she is often very vocal and difficult to control in crowds.

As the fish release dharma assembly began, being near five other dogs in attendance should have driven her into a frenzy, yet she remained calm and simply paced around. Pansy only barked two times during the whole ceremony. It was a shock to me that she was not barking and crying nonstop the whole time. When the master came over to bless Pansy with holy water, she sat still and regarded everything with a calm disposition. She didn’t bark at Qupei Rinpoche or jump on her. She was very well behaved. As I went down to the dock to release fish, Pansy sat down next to my mom and waited patiently for me to return.

Pansy met the five other dogs and they were now Buddhist brothers and sisters.
Pansy met the five other dogs and they were now Buddhist brothers and sisters.

After the ceremony was complete, Pansy met the five other dogs and they were now Buddhist brothers and sisters. It was a beautiful day filled with a lot of happiness. All the monastics gave Pansy water to drink and pet her. I could tell Pansy was content and happy by the way her tail wagged and her trot around me. I want to give thanks to the sangha, the master, and the Buddha for allowing her to gui yi (taking refuge in Chinese). I hope in the future, Pansy can receive more blessings and have a chance to meet H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. In the future, my wish is for Pansy to reincarnate to the human realm to cultivate and study Buddhism to get out of the cycle of birth and death.

Link: https://wisdomtea.org/2022/11/24/my-dog-becomes-a-buddhist/

Giving thanks can make you happier

Giving thanks can make you happier

Each holiday season comes with high expectations for a cozy and festive time of year. However, for many this time of year is tinged with sadness, anxiety, or depression. Certainly, major depression or a severe anxiety disorder benefits most from professional help. But what about those who just feel lost or overwhelmed or down at this time of year? Research (and common sense) suggests that one aspect of the Thanksgiving season can actually lift the spirits, and it’s built right into the holiday — being grateful.

The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways, gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, being grateful also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.

In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. They can apply it to the past (retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of childhood or past blessings), the present (not taking good fortune for granted as it comes), and the future (maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude). Regardless of the inherent or current level of someone’s gratitude, it’s a quality that individuals can successfully cultivate further.

Link: https://wisdomtea.org/2022/11/17/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier-2/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

10 Steps To Effective Listening

10 Steps To Effective Listening

by Dianne Schilling

In today’s high-tech, high-speed, high-stress world, communication is more important then ever, yet we seem to devote less and less time to really listening to one another. Genuine listening has become a rare gift—the gift of time. It helps build relationships, solve problems, ensure understanding, resolve conflicts, and improve accuracy. At work, effective listening means fewer errors and less wasted time. At home, it helps develop resourceful, self-reliant kids who can solve their own problems. Listening builds friendships and careers. It saves money and marriages.

Here are 10 tips to help you develop effective listening skills.

Step 1: Face the speaker and maintain eye contact.

Talking to someone while they scan the room, study a computer screen, or gaze out the window is like trying to hit a moving target. How much of the person’s divided attention you are actually getting? Fifty percent? Five percent? If the person were your child you might demand, “Look at me when I’m talking to you,” but that’s not the sort of thing we say to a lover, friend or colleague.

In most Western cultures, eye contact is considered a basic ingredient of effective communication. When we talk, we look each other in the eye. That doesn’t mean that you can’t carry on a conversation from across the room, or from another room, but if the conversation continues for any length of time, you (or the other person) will get up and move. The desire for better communication pulls you together.

Do your conversational partners the courtesy of turning to face them. Put aside papers, books, the phone and other distractions. Look at them, even if they don’t look at you. Shyness, uncertainty, shame, guilt, or other emotions, along with cultural taboos, can inhibit eye contact in some people under some circumstances. Excuse the other guy, but stay focused yourself.

Step 2: Be attentive, but relaxed.

Now that you’ve made eye contact, relax. You don’t have to stare fixedly at the other person. You can look away now and then and carry on like a normal person. The important thing is to be attentive. The dictionary says that to “attend” another person means to:

  • be present
  • give attention
  • apply or direct yourself
  • pay attention
  • remain ready to serve

Mentally screen out distractions, like background activity and noise. In addition, try not to focus on the speaker’s accent or speech mannerisms to the point where they become distractions. Finally, don’t be distracted by your own thoughts, feelings, or biases.

Step 3: Keep an open mind.

Listen without judging the other person or mentally criticizing the things she tells you. If what she says alarms you, go ahead and feel alarmed, but don’t say to yourself, “Well, that was a stupid move.” As soon as you indulge in judgmental bemusements, you’ve compromised your effectiveness as a listener.

Listen without jumping to conclusions. Remember that the speaker is using language to represent the thoughts and feelings inside her brain. You don’t know what those thoughts and feelings are and the only way you’ll find out is by listening.

Don’t be a sentence-grabber. Occasionally my partner can’t slow his mental pace enough to listen effectively, so he tries to speed up mine by interrupting and finishing my sentences. This usually lands him way off base, because he is following his own train of thought and doesn’t learn where my thoughts are headed. After a couple of rounds of this, I usually ask, “Do you want to have this conversation by yourself, or do you want to hear what I have to say?” I wouldn’t do that with everyone, but it works with him.

Step 4: Listen to the words and try to picture what the speaker is saying.

Allow your mind to create a mental model of the information being communicated. Whether a literal picture, or an arrangement of abstract concepts, your brain will do the necessary work if you stay focused, with senses fully alert. When listening for long stretches, concentrate on, and remember, key words and phrases.

When it’s your turn to listen, don’t spend the time planning what to say next. You can’t rehearse and listen at the same time. Think only about what the other person is saying.

Finally, concentrate on what is being said, even if it bores you. If your thoughts start to wander, immediately force yourself to refocus.

Step 5: Don’t interrupt and don’t impose your “solutions.”

Children used to be taught that it’s rude to interrupt. I’m not sure that message is getting across anymore. Certainly the opposite is being modeled on the majority of talk shows and reality programs, where loud, aggressive, in-your-face behavior is condoned, if not encouraged.

Interrupting sends a variety of messages. It says:

  • “I’m more important than you are.”
  • “What I have to say is more interesting, accurate or relevant.”
  • “I don’t really care what you think.”
  • “I don’t have time for your opinion.”
  • “This isn’t a conversation, it’s a contest, and I’m going to win.”

We all think and speak at different rates. If you are a quick thinker and an agile talker, the burden is onyouto relax your pace for the slower, more thoughtful communicator—or for the guy who has trouble expressing himself.

When listening to someone talk about a problem, refrain from suggesting solutions. Most of us don’t want your advice anyway. If we do, we’ll ask for it. Most of us prefer to figure out our own solutions. We need you to listen and help us do that. Somewhere way down the line, if you are absolutely bursting with a brilliant solution, at least get the speaker’s permission. Ask, “Would you like to hear my ideas?”

Step 6: Wait for the speaker to pause to ask clarifying questions.

When you don’t understand something, of course you should ask the speaker to explain it to you. But rather than interrupt, wait until the speaker pauses. Then say something like, “Back up a second. I didn’t understand what you just said about…”

Step 7: Ask questions only to ensure understanding.

At lunch, a colleague is excitedly telling you about her trip to Vermont and all the wonderful things she did and saw. In the course of this chronicle, she mentions that she spent some time with a mutual friend. You jump in with, “Oh, I haven’t heard from Alice in ages. How is she?” and, just like that, discussion shifts to Alice and her divorce, and the poor kids, which leads to a comparison of custody laws, and before you know it an hour is gone and Vermont is a distant memory.

This particular conversational affront happens all the time. Our questions lead people in directions that have nothing to do with where they thought they were going. Sometimes we work our way back to the original topic, but very often we don’t.

When you notice that your question has led the speaker astray, take responsibility for getting the conversation back on track by saying something like, “It was great to hear about Alice, but tell me more about your adventure in Vermont.”

Step 8: Try to feel what the speaker is feeling.

If you feel sad when the person with whom you are talking expresses sadness, joyful when she expresses joy, fearful when she describes her fears—and convey those feelings through your facial expressions and words—then your effectiveness as a listener is assured. Empathy is the heart and soul of good listening.

To experience empathy, you have to put yourself in the other person’s place and allow yourself to feel what it is like to be her at that moment. This is not an easy thing to do. It takes energy and concentration. But it is a generous and helpful thing to do, and it facilitates communication like nothing else does.

Step 9: Give the speaker regular feedback.

Show that you understand where the speaker is coming from by reflecting the speaker’s feelings. “You must be thrilled!” “What a terrible ordeal for you.” “I can see that you are confused.” If the speaker’s feelings are hidden or unclear, then occasionally paraphrase the content of the message. Or just nod and show your understanding through appropriate facial expressions and an occasional well-timed “hmmm” or “uh huh.”

The idea is to give the speaker some proof that you are listening, and that you are following her train of thought—not off indulging in your own fantasies while she talks to the ether.

In task situations, regardless of whether at work or home, always restate instructions and messages to be sure you understand correctly.

Step 10: Pay attention to what isn’t said—to nonverbal cues.

If you exclude email, the majority of direct communication is probably nonverbal. We glean a great deal of information about each other without saying a word. Even over the telephone, you can learn almost as much about a person from the tone and cadence of her voice than from anything she says. When I talk to my best friend, it doesn’t matter what we chat about, if I hear a lilt and laughter in her voice, I feel reassured that she’s doing well.

Face to face with a person, you can detect enthusiasm, boredom, or irritation very quickly in the expression around the eyes, the set of the mouth, the slope of the shoulders. These are clues you can’t ignore. When listening, remember that words convey only a fraction of the message.

Listening Skills Exercise: Summarize, Summarize, Summarize!

For at least one week, at the end of every conversation in which information is exchanged, conclude with a summary statement. In conversations that result in agreements about future obligations or activities, summarizing will not only ensure accurate follow-through, it will feel perfectly natural. In conversations that do not include agreements, if summarizing feels awkward just explain that you are doing it as an exercise.

Link: https://wisdomtea.org/2022/11/10/10-steps-to-effective-listening/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2012/11/09/10-steps-to-effective-listening/?sh=4d5306543891

The Magnificent Process That I Witnessed in Person When Layperson Zhao Yusheng Passed Away and Reached Liberation

The Magnificent Process That I Witnessed in Person When
Layperson Zhao Yusheng Passed Away and Reached Liberation

Amitabha! Dharma masters, rinpoches, and kind virtuous ones, my name is Bee Bee Moh. I will now talk about the magnificent process occurred when Layperson Zhao Yusheng passed away and reached liberation. To avoid missing something when I talk, I wrote my speech down earlier.

Zhao Yusheng was a disciple of Chen Baosheng and had learned the evil teaching from Chen Baosheng before. Every day, he chanted “supreme vajra master” and that one’s accomplishment all depends on the master and relies on the joy and pleasure of the master. Zhao Yusheng said that he helped Chen Baosheng hide the truth and create false information while working at the tile company. That caused the company to lose more than 800,000 yuan just last year. He said, “I also helped him make false propaganda to deceive people. My situation became worse and worse as I was learning from Chen Baosheng. I am bounded by sin and bad karmas. My body now has cancer and is in great pain and suffering.” Zhao Yusheng realized that he had been harmed by Chen Baosheng’s demonic dharma. He was able to meet H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III after his cancer had reached the terminal stage. When Zhao Yusheng saw His Holiness, the Buddha, he piously repented before the Buddha Master. The Buddha Master said that repenting or not is not important and it is important that one should cultivate oneself well and truly correct the evil and pursue goodness to benefit society and living beings. Zhao Yusheng repented wholeheartedly. He no longer wanted to be a rinpoche and completely stopped learning the evil teaching. He did not fear death and only wished to be reborn in the Buddha-land. He made the greatest vow. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III saw his sincerity and the maturing of his karmic condition and transmitted the dharma to him. Amitabha Buddha was invited to manifest in person to touch his head and transmit the dharma to him. Brother Zhao Yusheng was also able to see the main gate of the Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss at that time. Amitabha Buddha told the Brother that Namo Kuan Shi Yin Bodhisattva would come to receive him to go to a place in the 5th lotus stage in the Pure Land. After receiving the dharma transmission from Amitabha Buddha and returning to San Francisco, the Brother practiced the dharma all the time every day and did not want to talk much. Sister Zhao Chen, who is the Brother’s daughter and I waited day by day. We did not know which day Namo Kuan Shi Yin Bodhisattva would come to receive the Brother. I have a company at Washington DC to run, but I also wanted to see the Brother attaining accomplishment. That created a contradiction in my mind. Well, a day spent was like a year to me! Eventually I had to call to beseech instructions from the Buddha Master. The Buddha Master said, “He will not be reborn there for the time being. For Zhao Yusheng’s physical condition, the decisions from the doctors and nurses should always be followed.”

On the day before Brother Zhao’s passing away and attaining liberation, he and I sat on a bench outside. He told me, “Chen Baosheng is a demonic devil, demonic evildoer, person of sin, criminal of fraud, and swindler. Kuan Shi Yin Bodhisattva wanted me to expose his sinful acts and said that He will come tomorrow to receive me. I was told to manifest the dharma to let people know when I am received to leave. However, I am worried that I may be drowsy and forget to expose him when Kuan Shi Yin Bodhisattva comes to receive me tomorrow.” I told the Brother, “Don’t worry. You don’t worry. Namo Kuan Shi Yin Bodhisattva will definitely come to receive you, and you will not be drowsy.”

At about 2:30pm in the afternoon on August 24 in American time, I was taking a nap at the time. After going outside to the restroom by himself, Brother Zhao came in to wake me up. He told us that he was about to leave and we should sincerely learn the dharma from the Buddha Master so we will meet again in the Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss. He was going to take a bath. At that time, we felt quite sad. Is this person who is alive now truly going to leave? We help him take out the clothing prepared for him earlier. After putting on his clothing, we smelled a kind of special fragrant scent from Brother Zhao’s body. Then, the Brother said, “I will now use my freedom from birth and death to prove that the Buddha-dharma of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III is the holiest. Chen Baosheng is a demonic devil and demonic evildoer! He is an evil master, big swindler, and a person of sin!” He also said, “The true dharma of the Tathagata is at where our great Buddha Master, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, is. Okay, okay, I will stop now. Namo Kuan Shi Yin Bodhisattva has come to receive me!” After finishing speaking, Brother Zhao emitted light from his entire body. I saw the extremely tall and great Kuan Shi Yin Bodhisattva, radiating strong and intense white light everywhere from His body. Surrounded by five-colored light, Namo Kuan Shi Yin Bodhisattva was extremely solemn and majestic, standing above the top of Brother Zhao’s head. At that time, I saw that Brother Zhao’s spiritual consciousness rushed out from the top of his head toward Kuan Shi Yin Bodhisattva and left in the sky! While watching, I suddenly was unable to see Kuan Shi Yin Bodhisattva and Brother Zhao. I hurriedly ran into the courtyard. At this time, my phone rang. I raised my head and saw that Brother Zhao left in the sky while stepping on white clouds and following Kuan Shi Yin Bodhisattva. I also saw that fragrant nectar was coming down from the trees in the yard! Dharma masters from Hua Zang Si came right at that time. When they arrived, they also saw that nectar was descending from the trees. The dharma masters also recorded the scene by video. This nectar was strange. It disappeared before touching the ground. I was not the only one seeing the event. An elder lady who is 92 years old and from Malaysia also saw that Kuan Shi Yin Bodhisattva received Brother Zhao Yusheng and brought him away! This holy manifestation is difficult to hear even in millions of kalpas.

Link: https://wisdomtea.org/2022/11/03/the-magnificent-process-that-i-witnessed-in-person-when-layperson-zhao-yusheng-passed-away-and-reached-liberation/